Development and evolution are some of the most important elements within every artist of every art form however they are perhaps most tangible in the work of the Czech artist, Point. With a collected wealth of experience, inspiration, ability and execution, his prolific art dominates the Prague art scene from subtle hidden “Pointies” on street corners to gigantic geometric behemoths in the middle of the street. We touched base for a chat with him and covered the important issues, inspiration, growing older and the colour red.
JS: I am pretty sure the last time we touched on your work at VNA was when I covered Trafacka’s “Temple of Freedom” exhibition at the Red Gallery in London and you were due to paint a large mural nearby. How did that go for you and did you enjoy your time in London?
Point: Yes, I enjoyed my last time in London very much, thank you for asking. It was a busy few days; I came to Europe for just one week from NYC where I had a studio at that time. So, I visit to London for this exhibition and met all my friends from Trafacka and then my girlfriend after few weeks. I had to install my works and at the time all the other guys were chilling after their setup while I had to paint that mural around the corner.
JS: That mural being Maximal vs. Minimal, a large version of your series which have a somewhat thermal feel. What was your aim with these paintings which bear such a high contrast to your street pieces?
Point: Well, this mural was painted at the same time as I was working on the new series of paintings for the project Art in Public in NYC. The main theme is a circle and I have been working on this theme for couple of years already. This year however appeared little organic imperfections in my pure geometry circles and it is a beginning of a new period I guess. Yes, the paintings are very different from my street sculptures and from my graffiti pieces as well. I would say it’s because of different technique and different language that I invented in last 6 years. It is abstract, it doesn’t say Point but in fact it is still about a point, because circle is a line around a point.
JS: It is hinted that “Art in Public” was an ironic title for your pop up show in NYC due to a shift in the way writers work, from working streets in public to the galleries and profit. To what extent do you feel this shift has changed the way street art is created, represented and exists as a concept?
Point: The title is ironic but only as one of its several meanings. In fact my paintings in streets are literally art in public. Of course it is not pure as a graffiti piece on a wall which stays in the street until getting buffed. The paintings are outside only for the time of photo shooting than go back inside and could be sold. As for the process of graffiti writers or street artists focusing on gallery world, the change is pretty natural… We are getting old, on one hand we want to explore new territories and on the other we need to make some money.
JS: When looking through older selections of photos of your pieces, it is clear that your work has grown hugely, being an artist with the perfect blend benefitting both from a great deal of experience but also using fresh inspiration and new ideas. What was the developmental process that has led you through over 10 years of rapidly changing and evolving works and styles?
Point: I would rather say over 20 years. I did my first graffiti piece in 1993. A lot of time passed and I went through many periods. From a toy to graffiti writer and graffiti bomber in late 90s until post 2000 when I had created various graffiti sculptures and street interventions. In last decade I’ve become interested in painting murals and exploring the gallery world. If there is any nice wall I’m down to paint it any time. Every experience with a material or environment like an Art Academy or Trafacka influences me to take things further for next steps. The theme leads you. For me it was letters for many years however lately I’ve reached more universal themes like infinity, movement and depth. Creating new sculptures influence more paintings and vice versa, because you see the subject from different perspective.
JS: You’ve undergone several pseudonyms during that time, what happened there?
Point: My first graffiti name was Splesh. In Czech it means cák or cákat and from that I came to 5 letters which spelt Cakes. Later I found out what Cakes means in English and I was disappointed, so I started to write as Point instead. I found out in the end that Cakes has good letters for graffiti pieces but Point has a good meaning and the letters were good inspiration for going into 3D. Lately I enjoy signing my paintings with my regular name, Jan Kaláb, so it’s almost as if every name is for a different section of work.
JS: What challenges and triumphs have you faced along the way?
Point: The challenge is always to reach your ideas become real. The triumph is when you can touch something what was just your incorporeal dream in your head some time ago. It doesn’t matter if is it a whole car on a subway, a big time sculpture or solo exhibition, the process is still part of the same story.
JS: As well as being long developed, your work crosses a wide number of styles and genres from installation and traditional street pieces, abstract, minimalism, to painting and sculpture, but within which style or medium do you feel most at home?
Point: I think the variety is my biggest advantage and disadvantage at the same time; I’m a Gemini and it is my nature to change constantly. For me the most comfortable is painting; it’s easy. Working in 3D is exhausting, but the results are more physical and creating new sculpture influences next paintings and vice versa, because you see the subject from different perspective.
The task is about to be able to use any medium to express the same idea and create my own “universe”. It may be confusing for the viewers, because I don’t have any significant technique or style all the time. But who don’t know me and would be interested will find out quite easy how rich my history is.
JS: You also use a lot of red, particularly in your installations and street pieces. Is there any reason for this specific colour choice?
Point: Red is the colour of life, energy, blood and overall just a very strong colour. I like it. I have used all kinds of colours in the past and on one of my two websites I’ve used a bit of a red selection at the minute because it matches together nice. The website shows just 15 projects, so it is very narrow selection and I’m trying to find a unity in such a variety. But yes, it’s truth that for my sculptures I’ve used red a lot.
JS: What are your favourite materials to work with?
Point: Acrylic paint and spray paint for now. Polystyrene is a light material and very easy to work with. The first person who used it for graffiti purpose was Zast from Berlin in 2001. Then we experimented with that quite a lot also with Akim from Berlin. You can work with it like with a building set. If you go straight to the scene with a polystyrene tag there is almost no trash and is goes up fast; so you use almost 90% of the material. The main idea of 3d bombing is to prepare your pieces at the studio and then you can just stick it to the wall really quick.
JS: And finally where do you see yourself and your work headed in the future?
Point: Creating more, bigger and different on various places inside or outside. And still having fun.